Israeli raids in Syria kill 16: monitor

Cheryl Sanders
January 14, 2021

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people were killed, including seven Syrians, and the rest were Iran-backed fighters.

Iran is believed to have deployed hundreds of troops to Syria and to have armed, trained and financed thousands of Shia Muslim militiamen - from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen - to support forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the nine-year Syrian civil war.

A senior U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the attack told the Associated Press that the airstrikes were carried out with intelligence provided by the United States and targeted a series of warehouses in Syria that were being used as a part of the pipeline to store and stage Iranian weapons.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment, AFP reported.

Paramilitaries belonging to the Lebanese Hizbullah movement and the Fatimid Brigade, which is made up of pro-Iranian Afghan fighters, operate in the region, the Observatory said. In June 2018, 55 pro-government fighters were reportedly killed in the same region.

According to Syria's official SANA news agency, the strikes targeted sites in the areas of Boukamal and Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, where there is a major presence of Iranian-backed militias.

"At 1:10 am, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault on the town of Deir Ezzor and the Boukamal region", SANA said, citing a military source.

"The results of the aggression are now being verified", it added.

Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Monday on Israeli preparations for an armed conflict on the border with Syria in 2021.

Israel is reported to have carried out three other rounds of air strikes in Syria in the past fortnight, hitting facilities, depots and positions in the southern and western outskirts of Damascus and in the Golan Heights.

Israel routinely carries out raids in Syria, mostly against targets affiliated with Iran in what it says is a bid to prevent its arch foe from securing further foothold along its borders.

Israel launched an air attack against Iranian-linked targets in Syria near the main border crossing to Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday, one of the biggest strikes yet in a campaign that has escalated in the Trump administration's final weeks.

Tzachi Hanegbi, an Israeli government minister, told Israeli radio he would not discuss the specific reports, but that Israel hit Iranian targets in Syria "whenever our intelligence dictates it and according to our operational capability".

The Jewish state rarely acknowledges individual strikes but has done so when responding to what it describes as aggression inside Israeli territory.

The war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more since it erupted after the brutal repression of anti-government protests almost a decade ago.

Other reports by iNewsToday